• Round 2 Could Include More Products — Lots More

    From: Home Care Magazine

    ATLANTA — While Round 2 of competitive bidding will expand the program to 91 additional cities, that’s not all that could expand. The national bidding program might also include a much wider selection of products, according to a joint message from the American Association for Homecare, the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers and VGM. 

    Round 1 of the program hit nine product categories, with Group 2 support surfaces bid in the Miami competitive bidding area only. According to the three industry organizations, that list could grow to as many as 20 categories shared by CMS officials at an April 5 meeting of the Program Advisory and Oversight Committee. 

    Here is the list of products under consideration for inclusion in Round 2: 

    1. Oxygen Supplies/Equipment
    2. Diabetic Supplies & Equipment (National mail-order program)
    3. Standard Power Mobility Devices
    4. CPAP/Respiratory Assist Devices
    5. Enteral Nutrition
    6. Infusion Pumps & Related Drugs
    7. Manual Wheelchairs
    8. Hospital Beds/Accessories
    9. Off-The-Shelf Orthotics
    10. Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) Devices
    11. Walkers
    12. Group 2 Support Surfaces
    13. Nebulizers
    14. Ventilators
    15. TENS Devices
    16. Commode Chairs
    17. Patient Lifts/Seat Lifts
    18. Blood Glucose Monitors
    19. Group 1 Support Surfaces
    20. Lymphedema Pumps


    That’s all the more reason providers should get in gear to get competitive bidding stopped, industry advocates said last week, urging support for H.R. 1041 to repeal the program entirely. Introduced in March, the bill has picked up more than 80 cosponsors in the House but needs a companion bill in the Senate. 

    While Congress is in recess and legislators are in their home districts, said VGM’s John Gallagher, vice president of government relations, “You need to go across the street and grab your competitor and go to a town hall meeting and make an impact. Numbers are what matter. It can’t be just one individual out there crying in the woods.” 

    Seth Johnson, vice president of government affairs for Exeter, Pa.-based Pride Mobility Products, echoed the action call. “The industry needs to meet with legislators to educate them on the problems with Round 1 competitive bidding in order to build enough support to stop it prior to any further expansion of this fundamentally flawed program,” he said. 

    Based on a new timeline for Round 2, CMS will announce the final product categories this summer, although agency officials have called that timeline “tentative.” 

    Under the new schedule, which delays Round 2 by about six months, bidder registration will begin this fall with bidding to open at some point between December of 2011 and February of 2012. Single payment amounts would be announced in the fall of 2012 with contract suppliers revealed in the spring of 2013, and implementation in the 91 additional CBAs would follow in the summer of 2013. 

    What the delay does, Gallagher said, “is give us this year to kill this. 

    “I think now is a key time. I have attended two town hall meetings this week and will attend two next week,” he said Friday. “It’s a good time to talk about health care. People are upset,” he said, noting that the public approval rating for members of Congress hovers around an abysmal 7 percent. 

    “Truly, people out there are mad, and members of Congress are scrambling to find someone who is not wanting to take their heads off,” he said. So they may welcome someone talking about the competitive bidding debacle, how it is a job-killer and puts patients at risk and how the industry needs their help, he said. 

    “It’s critical we are out there with [legislators] when they are home,” he said. “We need to be the sane people in the room, saying, ‘I want to talk to you about jobs, I want to talk to you about health care and what the government is trying to do.'” 

    Last week, Gallagher recorded a video update discussing the competitive bidding program, H.R. 1041 and the need to take action now. 

    Watch the first part of the video. Watch the second part of the video

    “What we are trying to do is create momentum to get that Senate companion bill and get that language into a decent piece of legislation and get it to fly,” Gallagher said. 

    That means talking to both senators and representatives, Johnson emphasized. 

    “There have been some good meetings with Senate offices in recent weeks, and efforts are underway to get a Senate companion bill introduced this spring,” he said. “There is no specific timeline set for H.R. 1041 to be passed, but I think most would agree that in order to stop the advancement of the process for Round 2, H.R. 1041 needs to pass this year. That should be our goal.” 

    “We must pull out all the stops to press for repeal of the flawed bidding program,” NAIMES’ President and CEO Wayne Stanfield told members in the group’s newsletter last week. “We cannot stop the bidding nightmare without every supplier getting involved. 

    “Call the local district office of your representative and senators and schedule a meeting during this recess when they are home. Attend every town hall meeting or other public event possible … The current bidding program is fatally flawed and will fail. It’s time to stop it and preserve the industry while looking for alternative solutions to reducing Medicare costs.”

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